Anne Devlin



Despite being tortured by the Redcoats, Anne Devlin, a housekeeper and confidante of Robert Emmet, refused to inform on the United Irishmen. An account of her life by Anti-Imperialist Action on the anniversary of her death, 160 years ago this week.


Anne Devlin was one of seven children born to Winifred Byrne and Bryan Devlin from Cronebeg near Aughrim in County Wicklow in 1780.

When Anne was a small child the family moved to a dairy farm at Corballis, Rathdrum Co Wicklow.

The people who knew Anne found her highly educated, spirited and intelligent and a true friend to all, just like her cousin the brave Wicklow Chief Michael Dwyer.

From the 1790’s families like the Devlins, Dwyers and Byrnes began to put their beliefs and trust in the Society of United Irishmen.

When the 98′ Rebellion began the Devlins were not found wanting.

The English enemy torched the Devlin home and farm as a reprisal for the Devlin’s support of the United Irish ideals.

Following the fall of the Wexford Republic the United Irish columns under Gareth Byrne, Joseph Holt and Michael Dwyer made their way to the safety of the Wicklow Mountains

It was in the mountains of Wicklow where Dwyer began a 5 year long resistance campaign and Anne was to play an important role as Dwyers secret messenger and the rebel column’s Quartermaster.

Anne remained a close comrade of Dwyer until she moved with her family to Rathfarnham Co. Dublin in 1801.

While in Dublin Robert Emmet made Anne his military contact with Dwyer and Anne assisted Emmet with the Rising of 1803.

When Emmet and the 1803 rebel leadership called a halt to the rising Anne was said to be fuming and encouraged the men to carry on.

Anne was arrested by enemy redcoats when she returned to Emmet’s home at Butterfield Lane, on 26 July.

Anne was tortured, brutalised, stabbed and half strangled by the enemy forces but she refused to inform on Emmet or give any information on the other rebels.

Following her capture and the eventual capture of Emmet and the other leaders, Anne and her family were cast into Kilmainham gaol.

While in Kilmainham her 9yr old brother James died of torture and neglect.

In 1806 Anne was imprisoned in Dublin Castle and was kept in solitary confinement, eventually been released at the end of the year

On the outside Anne got work as a maid and a cleaner.

Anne married William Campbell and had 3 children.

Following the death of her husband in 1845, Anne and her family fell in to poverty and bad health.

Anne Devlin tragically died on the 18th of September 1851 in a small room at 2, Little Elbow Lane in the Coombe district of Dublin.

Anne was buried in a paupers grave in Glasnevin.

Her friends rallied around and finally raised funds and Anne was reinterred in a different part of Glasnevin.

Anne was given a more respectful funeral and given a headstone detailing her connection to the Bold Robert Emmet and her part in the fight for Irish Freedom, Justice and Peace.

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